The program, apart from providing bottom line results to the company, generates some very specific benefits for the corporate planner and planning department. A major concern of strategic planners is that the plans so laboriously developed by them are sometimes not implemented well and there is an implied, sometimes expressed, blame that attaches to the planner, who of course can have no influence on the outcome. Plans are sometimes not bought into emotionally by the line managers and staff who are responsible for bringing them into reality. Often senior management communicates them poorly. Sometimes they are ignored. And very often the middle managers, who are the ones who must implement them, avoid committing to explicit actions to do so.
Frequently, plans are expressed in a traditional form that neither communicates well nor motivates the very people who have to create the future. The traditional process does not, and cannot, address the wellsprings and motivation of performance.
Another factor is the unmistakable trend for companies, many of them very large and therefore "trendsetters", to move away from planning, in what is perceived to be a new age of business. This trend is finding strong expression from the academic community and popular business writers. The book, The Decline And Fall Of Strategic Planning and its endorsement by Tom Peters is a prime example of this. The flattening of organizations, the increasing unpredictability of business and the move towards teams as a way to respond to change, contrary to all common sense, is given as the reason for this. This of course is exceedingly dangerous; those are precisely the reasons for planning. But, in fact, the impetus behind the trend is the common failure of the traditional processes to increase either corporate adaptability or bottom line results.
We understand this. Our facilitator/catalysts have all worked as strategic planners at large CPA firms, consulting firms and fortune 100 companies and for years experienced all these frustrations as they developed plan after plan for hundreds of organizations. It was not until about five years ago that we really learned how to trigger the motivation to implement within our client organizations.
The process we created overcomes many of these issues. The professional corporate planner now has a process that can be assured of causing flexibility rather than inhibiting it; of delivering measurable, bottom-line results. He can have the satisfaction of being able to induce the organization to address the real factors governing performance, not just those addressed in the traditional processes, which are often just symptoms.
He can have the people who must do so, acknowledge these real issues and not slide off or flatly deny them. He can cause the line managers to actually make the hard decisions and commit to implementing them. And, perhaps most important in the long term, he can keep control over the follow up mechanisms so that implementation will take place.
BUSINESS PROCESS RE-ENGINEERING (BPR)
As you will see from the enclosed materials, we market our program not just as planning but also as the catalyst to ensure that business re-engineering is successful. As you know, 70% of all re-engineering projects fail. One reason, well documented now by Hammer & Champy, is that the key line managers, especially the middle managers, do not get on board. Our program is directed, rifle barreled, explicitly to this, as well as to several other causes of failure they have not mentioned. And it has worked each and every time it has been used.
For example, the results shown in the enclosed case study summaries were generated by re-engineering programs, TQMs and other initiatives which were already begun. Some were of long standing, others recently started. But they were having only modest effect until the middle managers caught fire and demanded (of themselves) that they work. These self same managers used the program to generate the enthusiasm and commitment to succeed. Incidentally, almost all the middle line managers who undertook our program initially cited the existence of these initiatives as the reason that our planning program should be delayed.
The advantages of our program for the re-engineer is that the areas where most resistance will arise can be identified accurately and the nature and level of effort needed to bring them into acceptance and support can be seen and provided for. And, of course, the really critical blocks can be addressed cathartically so that those involved will actually change their minds, be driven to change their minds, or at worst, be too ashamed to block.
Additionally, the really critical part of the organization that always needs to be re-engineered, the culture, now becomes accessible. This is ignored by most BPR programs. Those who live within the culture, who embody it, can be persuaded to identify and acknowledge it in all its parts and specify what it should become. They can also be motivated to change it.
The process gives the CEO the vehicle for empowering his people, for publicly ordaining them, before their peers and subordinates, with the authority to do and achieve. Managers become empowered to be the ceo of their section, taking responsibility and accountability for its success. They also learn how to do the same for their people.
Interestingly, it also gives managers the mechanism to support, encourage and empower the CEO.
By the time the program for the senior team is done, management's power to effect the future of the company has grown very significantly.
COMMITMENT OF MANAGERS
The program gives managers, especially middle managers and supervisors who are the true implementers of all change, a safe place in which to commit to the future of the organization, not just intellectually but emotionally; a very difficult thing to do in the ordinary course of business. These commitments are made to the CEO, who leads the process, and are witnessed by their peers, and most importantly, their subordinates. In the final analysis, the achievements that are triggered by the program are driven by this commitment.
INSIGHT INTO THE ORGANIZATION
Because of the program's unique diagnostic module, the CEO can look into every unit of his organization, through the eyes of its people, and see, not just the measures of performance as generated by the usual reporting systems, but the culture and motivations underlying and governing that performance. And this can be done at any time.
The ability of managers to identify the elements of corporate culture that need changing and to commit to doing so, is one of the key benefits of the program.
EASE OF MANAGEMENT
Because the program simplifies the politics of the organization and because it powerfully focuses the myriad forces within the company, the process of management and administration is much, much easier. To use the analogy of sail, when the sails and sheets are set perfectly there is no strain on the tiller.
The severing of the organizational knots which occurs during the process, especially during the first four days, permits the CEO to shift corporate direction very rapidly when needed. The momentum built up by the rapid implementation of plans provides the steerage-way for this change of direction. And, the on-line, living action plan, permits the CEO to direct change where it is needed, to impel change where that is necessary and to control its pace, with considerable ease.
BUSINESS CREATIVITY AND INNOVATION
Using the techniques and the technology of the program, the CEO can tap into the creativity of his managers. They in turn will be able to engage the creative talents of their people.
As a by-product of undertaking the program, the senior managers of the organization weld themselves quite naturally into a proactive management team that is centered on the senior executive, who leads the program. In turn, as subordinate units undergo the program, their managers and supervisors also form themselves into teams centered on their leaders.
During the program, middle managers and supervisors witness scores, sometimes hundreds, of business decisions being made in full context of the financials, the economy, the competition, the politics and the profusion of other factors that effect the operation of a company. Of particular importance to them is witnessing the CEO's decisions. In the space of a few days they are exposed to as much as might take them as many years of ordinary work. To paraphrase Drucker, no better way of developing managers can be found than having them actively participate and witness in the process of management.
Of all the benefits that our clients have reported, the satisfaction, perhaps even the joy, of leading a winning team is probably ranked the most important.
There are many other benefits that occur as well, too many to go into separately, and many of them unique to the unique organizations that experience them. Many of these are not directly measurable. But all of them support the basic objectives of the organization that are specified and committed to through the program.